Does racism in Thailand exist?
Racism in Thailand has always been an issue as Thais tend to be somewhat xenophobic.Having said that, however, you are highly unlikely to encounter racism as a tourist in Thailand, no matter what your nationality or skin color, as Thais also tend to be extremely hospitable and welcoming to any visitor to the country. Where racism in Thailand does appear, however, is in finding employment and in the workplace — and, if you’re a non-white looking for a teaching job, it’s unlikely you won’t face racism in Thailand as just about every non-white person I know has.
Racism in the teaching industry in Thailand
Racism in Thailand in the teaching industry is particularly bad as most schools only want a white face teaching their children. That’s because the parents, who are the ones paying the fees, demand it. Yes, it really is as bad as that.
That’s also why, if you’re black (African or African-American/European, it doesn’t matter ), Asian (particularly Indian) or Middle-Eastern and looking for a job teaching English in Thailand, you’ll need to be prepared to encounter racism on a daily basis and expect to have it take you much longer to get a job than a white person with the same qualifications. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is.
Problems finding a teaching job in Thailand if you’re non-white
Case in point — an older Indian woman I know has been in Thailand for just over three months. She is a fully-qualified English teacher with 20 years work experience teaching in Australia. When she arrived, she also took and passed a TEFL course in Thailand so she would be sure to be as qualified as possible when it came to finding a job.
Three months later, after sending out hundreds of resumes and going to many job interviews, she still has not been offered a teaching job in Thailand. All the white men she knows or meets, most of whom are not qualified teachers and who, in some cases don’t even have a university degree, all found jobs in just a few days. The only reason she didn’t? She’s Indian.
Thais don’t particularly care for Indians, and they’ll even admit it to your face. They don’t understand the Indian accent (and don’t try to understand it) and they say Indians “smell” because of the food they eat.
So, when it comes to having an Indian teacher in a classroom, even a fully qualified one with 20 years teaching experience in a western country, most Thai school administrators will still hire a 20-year-old white backpacker with no teaching experience, and without a university degree, before they’ll hire a non-white with qualifications and experience up the yin-yang. Sad, isn’t it?
Racism is anti-Thai not anti-non-white
What this type of racism in Thailand means is although non-whites suffer as it takes them much longer to find a job, Thai students suffer even more. That’s why this type of racism is actually anti-Thai.
After all, when a school will hire a 20-year-old white backpacker who wants to ‘teach’ for a couple of months, or a 50-year-old white man without a university degree and only in Thailand for the Thai women, before they’ll hire a fully-qualified teacher, who just happens to be Indian, Middle-Eastern, or black, how well do you think Thais are going to learn to speak English?
Not very well, that’s for sure.
Racism in Thailand — yep, alive and well. At least in the teaching industry.